Quarter of NT apps won't run on Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 is supposed to be the product that finally persuades NT4 users to upgrade - yet many who do will find some of their applications will no longer work

Less than three-quarters of Windows NT4 applications are likely to run on Windows Server 2003, creating a significant barrier to adoption for administrators who still run NT4 -- the very people that Microsoft wants to attract with the new operating system.

Rob Short, the Microsoft executive in charge of the Windows kernel code, admitted that in extensive testing, more than one in four NT applications failed to run on Windows Server 2003. "We had a very high goal, but... we ran into security problems" said Short, "(the number that run is) in the high 60 percent. It's not 90."

Microsoft is hoping that Windows Server 2003 will be the version that will persuade companies still using Windows NT4 to finally upgrade. Support for Windows NT 4 was due to be cancelled early this year, but pressure from customers forced Microsoft to put the date back to January 2005. "We want to get to the NT4 base onto Windows Server 2003. Customers say it is the one thing they have been waiting for," said Mark Tennant, Microsoft's Windows servers product marketing manager, speaking to ZDNet UK, in an earlier interview. "A lot of customers have been waiting for Exchange 2003." Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 is due to be generally available in the summer.

Microsoft has not said which applications will not run, but a certification process is likely to be set up.

At the launch of Windows Server 2003, Short also revealed that Microsoft has been training its programmers in hacking skills, even going as far as hiring hackers themselves, in order to secure the new version of Windows. "We took eight or ten of our best coding people and sent them off to go and be hackers. We had them hack the system," he said. And all this in the context of a major overhaul of security: "The new stuff is 10 to 100 times better", he claimed.

And Microsoft has kept a beady eye on Unix and Linux, and isn't afraid to say where the Windows approach falls short. "(Security patches are) an area where the Unix guys are ahead of us... that's an area where we've got a problem," Short said. He also talked about doing a command line version of Windows, how they sped up filing system performance, what happened when they tried to scale the registry up for 64 bit systems, and more.

For more on the performance, compatibility, safety, direction and future of Windows, read the whole Rob Short interview here.


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